Getting around the city of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is not necessarily always an easy task. During peak seasons, the downtown Parkway can become congested, packed with people and families all enjoying their time in the Smoky Mountains. The Parkway is home to nearly every Gatlinburg attraction you could want to visit, so it is no wonder that this area is one of the busiest places in town.
Nearly every season in Gatlinburg brings a hustle and bustle to the Parkway, but summer and fall are particularly busy times for the city. The Gatlinburg Parkway, also known as Highway 441, offers conveniently numbered traffic lights for easy directions no matter where you’re headed! Don’t be surprised to read or hear directions that involve turning at “Traffic Light #3.” There are 10 numbered lights total, beginning at Davy Crockett’s Mini Golf and ending at the famous Ski Mountain Road.
Getting around Gatlinburg is not a lost cause though. There are plenty of transportation options that make navigating the city much simpler. Between staying near downtown, driving on your own, and hopping aboard the trolley, you’re sure to find a mode that fits your needs and vacation style. Read on for our top picks and tips!
One of the best and most efficient ways to get around Gatlinburg is by using the Gatlinburg Trolley system. The fifth-largest mass transit system in the state of Tennessee, this service offers 20 trolleys that travel both around Gatlinburg and also in nearby Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. All trolleys are handicap accessible to make traveling easy for everyone in your family.
You can board the Gatlinburg Trolley at more than 100 locations throughout the city – pick up locations are easily spotted by the Street Trolley sign. All routes are color coded to make navigation as easy as can be. The trolleys travel to the Gatlinburg Welcome Center, to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dollywood, the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, and just about everywhere along the downtown Parkway and River Road.
Don’t know where to be or when to be there? No problem! The Gatlinburg Trolley system offers a Trolley Locator on their website that makes it simple to catch a ride. This is an easy and inexpensive way to get around the city, with fares ranging from 50 cents to $2.
If you prefer to have your own mode of transportation around the city, you may be interested in renting a Jeep or Hummer from Southland Car and Jeep Rentals. Leave the minivan behind and opt for a weekend in a Jeep Wrangler or Hummer H2!
Located off Traffic Light #3, their vehicles are professionally cleaned and detailed and ready for your rental. They offer everything from 2-door to 4-door vehicles, automatics to manuals, and cars come equipped with power steering, air conditioning, and radio.
Another easy and fun way to get out and see the city is by renting a scooter! Kids and adults alike think that this is a great way to explore the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Get a little fresh air and let the wind blow through your hair as you explore the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg.
If you do decide to drive yourself and embark on a trip downtown, it may be wise to look into alternate routes. Choosing to travel along the Gatlinburg Bypass as opposed to the Parkway frees up some space and is also a more scenic route for you to enjoy. Nearby River Road also travels along the Gatlinburg Parkway and can be a good bet if you’re only traveling down a light or two.
Quick Tips for Driving Downtown:
- Pack snacks for the ride.
- Always have water on hand.
- Have fun car games for the kids.
- Be patient!
- Have an emergency car kit, just in case.
- Take your time; don’t travel in a rush.
Cabins Near Downtown
Lastly, another great (and possibly the best) option for getting around Gatlinburg is to rent a cabin within walking distance to downtown. We have many cabins located just off the strip, only a short walk from the main downtown Parkway. When you stay in our cabins near downtown Gatlinburg, there is no hassle of parking or traffic – all the entertainment you could ever desire is a short stroll away!
You won’t have to worry about transportation when you can simply walk to the restaurants and attractions you want to check out. Some of our closest cabins to downtown Gatlinburg include:
By walking the Parkway, you may notice shops and stores that you otherwise would have driven right by. The strip offers many sets of shops and malls tucked along the small side streets that offer gems not found anywhere else. From The Village Shops to the Mountain Mall, you will be delighted by the things you find when you take time to slow down and enjoy a walk!
When in doubt, pick up a map from a local gas station, supermarket, or welcome center and pick your best navigation routes. The technology of the modern world allows you to easily get traffic updates from your smartphone and can offer alternate routes in times of distress. The city of Gatlinburg is very easy to navigate and you may arrive at your destination quicker than you had hoped! You may find that getting around Gatlinburg is an adventure all its own!
Getting Around for Fun
Beyond just getting around Gatlinburg to make it from point A to point B, there are dozens of ways to explore the area just for fun. Stretch your legs on a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – with more than 800 miles of trails – take a horseback ride through the trees, go on a bike ride in Cades Cove, or wind through the backcountry on an ATV tour! You can even take a scenic helicopter tour high above the trees, giving you some incredible views of the national park and the cities of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. However you see the Smokies, it’s sure to be an adventure!